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The History and Disappearance of the Jewish Presence in Pakistan

Pakistan was never traditionally anti-Semitic. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Pakistan hosted small, yet thriving, Jewish communities from the 19th century until the end of the 1960s.

By Shalva Weil for ISN Insights

In November 2008, Lashkar e Taiba (LET), a radical Islamist group from Pakistan, specifically targeted “Nariman House” in Bombay (Mumbai) for a terrorist attack, along with other tourist locations, such as the Taj Mahal hotel. Nariman House was a ‘Chabad house’ of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Hasidic Judaism – a Jewish outreach center that included an educational center, synagogue and hostel. It was run by Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. When the building was attacked, six occupants, including the Rabbi and his pregnant wife, were killed. A total of 164 people were killed in the Mumbai attacks. David Coleman Headley, who testified in the United States at the end of May 2011 in the trial of his friend, Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana, confessed that he had planned the Mumbai attacks in conjunction with an officer of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, a man whom he called “Major Iqbal”. The officer was reportedly delighted that the Jews were targeted.

The Jews of Pakistan

Pakistan was never traditionally anti-Semitic. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Pakistan hosted small, yet thriving, Jewish communities from the 19th century until the end of the 1960s. Recently, Yoel Reuben, a Pakistani Jew living in the town of Lod in Israel, whose family originated in Lahore, documented some of the history of the Jewish communities with photographs of original documents. When India and Pakistan were one country, before the partition in 1947, the Jews were treated with tolerance and equality. In the first half of the 20th century, there were nearly 1,000 Jewish residents in Pakistan living in different cities: Karachi, Peshwar, Quetta and Lahore. The largest Jewish community lived in Karachi, where there was a large synagogue and a smaller prayer hall. There were two synagogues in Peshawar, one small prayer hall in Lahore belonging to the Afghan Jewish community, and one prayer hall in Quetta. Even today, according to unofficial sources, there are rumors that some Jews remain in Pakistan, including doctors and members of the free professions, who converted or pass themselves off as members of other religions.

The Jews of Pakistan were of various origins, but most were from the Bene Israel community of India, and came to Pakistan in the employ of the British. Yifah, a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, relates that her great-great-grandfather Samuell Reuben Bhonkar, who was a Bene Israel, came to Karachi in British India to work as a jailer, and died there in 1928. The Bene Israel originated in the Konkan villages, but many moved to Bombay from the end of the 18th century on. In Pakistan, they spoke Marathi, their mother-tongue from Maharashtra; Urdu and most spoke English. Prayers were conducted in Hebrew.

In 1893, a Bene Israel from Bombay, Solomon David Umerdekar, inaugurated the Karachi Magen Shalom Synagogue on the corner of Jamila Street and Nishtar Road, which officially opened in 1912. During these years, the Jewish community thrived. In 1903, the community set up the Young Man’s Jewish Association, and the Karachi Bene Israel Relief Fund was established to support poor Jews. In 1918, the Karachi Jewish Syndicate was formed to provide housing at reasonable rents, and the All India Israelite League, which represented 650 Bene Israel living in the province of Sindh (including Hyderabad, Larkano, Mirpur-Khas and Sukkur, as well as Karachi), was first convened – founded by two prominent Bene Israel, Jacob Bapuji Israel and David S Erulkar. Karachi became a fulcrum for the Bene Israel in India, the place where they congregated for High Holiday prayers. There was also a prayer hall, which served the Afghan Jews residing in the city. A 1941 government census recorded 1,199 Pakistani Jews: 513 men and 538 women. So accepted were the Jews of Karachi in these years that Abraham Reuben, a leader in the Jewish community, became the first Jewish councilor on the Karachi Municipal Corporation.

Continue reading The History and Disappearance of the Jewish Presence in Pakistan

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Imran met Munter in ISI chief’s presence

By News Desk

LONDON: Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan was recently introduced to Cameron Munter, American Ambassador to Pakistan, in the presence of General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the ISI chief, according to sources, The Sunday Times reported. Imran Khan is said to have gained the backing of the country’s powerful security establishment …

Read more » The News

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=10432&Cat=13

Nawaz Sharif, the most popular leader in Pakistan, called for the government to establish an independent inquiry commission within three days

PML-N demands independent probe on bin Laden

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s opposition leader Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday demanded a full independent investigation over Osama bin Laden’s presence in the country, rejecting the government’s internal military probe.

“We completely reject the prime minister’s committee. It is powerless and cannot investigate the matter in depth,” he told a news conference shortly after returning to Pakistan from medical treatment in Britain.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday announced that a lieutenant general would head an inquiry “to get to the bottom of how, when and why” bin Laden had been hiding in the garrison town where he was killed by US forces. …

Read more : DAWN

Major General Isfandiyar Ali Pataudi may take charge as next ISI chief

Pataudi’s first cousin tipped as next ISI chief

by Josy Joseph

NEW DELHI: With Pakistan’s military-intelligence complex reeling from the embarrassment Americans inflicted when they took out Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad, speculation is rife that ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha may have to step down.

Pasha, who is in the direct line of criticism for the failure to detect the presence of bin Laden and the American operation, is already on an extension and the estimate here is that Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani may have to sacrifice him to appease the popular anger.

Front runners among those tipped to take over from Pasha is Major General Isfandiyar Ali Pataudi, first cousin of cricketing legend, former India skipper Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, and an uncle to film stars, Saif and Soha.

Isfandiyar’s father, Major General Nawabzada Mohammad Ali Pataudi, was the younger brother of Mansur Ali Khan’s father Iftikhar Ali Khan. Major General Nawabzada Mohammad preferred to opt for the Pakistan army at the time of partition, while his elder brother stayed back to pursue a diplomatic career.

Sources here said Maj Gen Isfandiyar Ali Pataudi, who was appointed a deputy director-general of ISI a few weeks ago, stands a good chance if a major churning happens at the higher echelons of the Pakistan army. His liberal moorings and aristocratic background may work to his advantage at a time when Rawalpindi is required to allay US’s fears of a fundamentalist takeover of the intelligence agency. An armoured corps officer, General Isfandiyar has another India connection: he was a classmate of the chief of the Indian Army, General V K Singh, at the Army War College in the US a few years ago. …

Read more : Times of India

via Wichaar

Losing the battle for Pakistan

by Sher Ali Khan

A few days ago, the progressive-leaning parliamentarian Shabaz Bhatti was shot down in cold blood for advocating a moderated stance against a draconian law in Pakistan. The changing societal dynamics comes in the backdrop of a struggling democratic government, which is failing to assert itself for Pakistan’s survival.

It was almost a month ago when I wrote a report for the Express Tribune about the Christian community yearning for a ‘more tolerant’ Lahore. After exploring various pockets of the society, it was sad to see that the community had become insolent and rather afraid to even interact with general population.

If one spoke to historians regarding the character of Lahore say not sixty but thirty years ago, one would have found a completely different social structure in Lahore. Though Islam had rapidly become a majority entity, communal activities were not exclusive rather they were inclusive.

The story of Pakistan’s road down the conception of Islamic state has only hardened differences between various communities to the point Pakistanis cannot be considered Pakistanis without obeying to a certain brands of Islam.

For years, the army and the ISI have provided safe havens for militant groups as part of a greater plan to maintain a strategic and military presence in Kashmir and Afghanistan. It is clear with the confirmed death of Colonel Imam, the so-called father of the Taliban that the dynamics of these relationships have changed over time. Increasingly these militant groups have become rouge thus functioning beyond the scope of the state. …

Read more : View Point

Most of the leaders of third world countries on sale, but Pakistan’s ruling elite is exception & it is very lower level satrap and slave

ANALYSIS: Schamlosigkeit! — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

….. Here, our easily purchasable politicians and bureaucrats do not hesitate to barter away their souls and, in Reko Diq’s case, the asking price is not their souls but the easily dispensable rights and future of the Baloch people.

The rights of the Baloch people seem inconsequential to the centre and they flout them with brazenness. Recently, Balochistan Assembly Speaker Mohammad Aslam Bhootani minced no words and exposed the immense pressure being put on them by the Prime Minister’s House to allot 70,000 acres in the environs of Hingol National Park to Arab princes for rest and recreation. He emphasised that the Balochistan government had earlier refused this land to a federal security institution because of the local people’s opposition. The Arab princes would do well to remember that in Balochistan they will not enjoy the tranquillity that Cholistan offers because here the people will definitely resist their unwanted presence.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, president of the UAE, alone has been allotted hunting permits in Zhob, Ormara, Gwadar, Pasni, Panjgur and Washuk districts. Pakistan is a signatory of the UN Bonn Convention on migratory species, which protects the endangered Houbara Bustard. But expecting respect for ‘bird rights’ where ‘human rights’ suffer immeasurably is infantile fantasy.

The Arab royalty have also been granted tax exemptions for all their property and imports for hunting purposes. The Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) clarified that “similar exemptions were also given to the United Nations, charitable organisations and diplomats”. The Arab rulers certainly qualify as ‘charitable organisations’ for the rulers and politicians here. They give them asylum and plead their case with the US.

The Pakistani politicians and the establishment are very fragile and vulnerable to pressures as is amply proved by the WikiLeaks or rather the ‘Wikitorrents’ that they have turned into. WikiLeaks certainly threatens to sweep away many a reputation and career around the world except perhaps in Pakistan and the Middle East where phenomenally shameless unashamedness or Schamlosigkeit exists as a unique quality in the rulers and establishments; the worse the reputation, the better are the chances of success.

The respect that the Arab princes and rulers accord to the rulers and politicians here is apparent from the choice epithets used for them in WikiLeaks. Some are considered dirty but not dangerous and others are dangerous but not dirty, and yet these shameless people go grovelling to their liege lords like serfs and subjects.

These rulers and politicians and the establishment sacrifice self-respect for material benefits; they cannot be expected to stand up for the rights of the Baloch people over their resources and land. And, moreover, because the Baloch do not expect them to protect their rights, they will resist Tethyan and the Arab princes’ encroachments on their land and resources in the same way that made, in spite of the huge military presence, Amoco Oil Company give up oil exploration in the Marri area in 1974.

To read full article : Daily Times

The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at mmatalpur@gmail.com